Student Code of Conduct Part IV: Community Standards Procedures

The following procedures are used to adjudicate alleged violations of The Student Code of Conduct except allegations of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking allegedly committed by a student or student organization which may be adjudicated under the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan. Allegations of sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking that occur off campus or internationally will be addressed under The Student Code of Conduct.

A.   Allegations

1.   Any person may file a report regarding any student or student organization alleging misconduct.  To initiate the Community Standards process, reports shall be referred to the Director of Community Standards, or designee. A report should be submitted as soon as possible after the alleged misconduct takes place. Reports may be filed electronically, in person at the Office of Community Standards in DiNardo Hall room 133, or via email at communitystandards@bridgew.edu.

2.   The Director of Community Standards or designee shall determine if a referral alleges or addresses a potential violation of The Student Code of Conduct and will notify the respondent of such allegations. The decision to continue a referral through the Community Standards process is the decision of the Director of Community Standards or designee.

3.   Generally, the Director of Community Standards or designee will assign a Case Resolution Coordinator(s) to the case who will investigate, schedule a conference with the respondent(s) and other individuals as deemed necessary and appropriate.

B. Determination of Facts Relative to an Alleged Violation

1.     The standard used in determining whether or not the respondent violated The Student Code of Conduct is a preponderance of the evidence (whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred).

 

C. Resolution of Referred Incidents

Incidents referred to the Office of Community Standards may be resolved through resolution options identified below. Use of the case resolution options listed below are determined by the Case Resolution Coordinator and are informed by nature of the alleged incident and other applicable factors including but not limited to the student’s past conduct history. Students are presumed not responsible for violations prior to adjudication. The burden of proof shall be on the university to show that the preponderance of the evidence standard is met before a student is determined to be responsible. All reviews will be fairly and impartially decided.

      1.   Response by Letter

a.      The Director of Community Standards, or designee, shall determine the appropriateness of addressing an incident by letter.  In such cases, a student shall receive a letter from the Case Resolution Coordinator outlining the alleged violation(s), determination, and sanction(s), if applicable.

b.     Students will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations and corresponding decision and request that an Administrative Conference be held to review the incident. Such requests must be made within three (3) business days from the date the notification was sent. Failure to respond within this timeframe will result in the decision being considered final.

c.      Examples of incidents that may be responded to by letter include but are not limited to minor off campus incidents and violations of the Residence Hall License Agreement.

      2. Administrative Conference

a.      An Administrative Conference is a meeting between a respondent and a Case Resolution Coordinator to review an incident, explain the Community Standards process, and review possible options for resolving the matter.

b.     After reviewing the incident with the respondent, the Case Resolution Coordinator will determine appropriate allegation(s) and/or violation(s), if any, and whether or not the situation may be resolved informally by marking the case as an educational conference or by signing a Case Resolution Form with the respondent. If the matter is unable to be resolved informally, the Case Resolution Coordinator may refer the matter for a formal Investigation/Administrative Review. Respondents may also request an Investigation/Administrative Review. Requests for an Investigation/Administrative Review will typically be granted.

c.      If a respondent does not attend an Administrative Conference on the date specified the incident may be referred to an Investigation/Administrative Review. 

 

d.     Findings of “not responsible” result in the matter being closed. Students will receive this disposition in writing.

e.      A respondent who agrees to resolve any alleged violations and applicable sanctions during an Administrative Conference shall have no right to appeal.

f.      A respondent or a complainant, if any, may request that the matter be referred to the Administrative Review Committee.

      3.   Investigations/Administrative Reviews

A.  Investigations

1.     If a situation cannot be resolved during an Administrative Conference, the Case Resolution Coordinator will assume the role of investigator and will conduct a fair and impartial investigation regarding the referred incident.  The respondent and complainant, if applicable, may provide information in person and/or submit a written account, and provide the names of incident witnesses for possible interviews with the Case Resolution Coordinator, provide witness statements and any documentation that may be relevant to the facts of the incident. The investigator will make a reasonable effort to obtain supporting documentation regarding the incident from other University entities or other resources. The investigator will determine the relevancy of the information proposed and/or provided.  Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator applying a preponderance of the evidence standard, will determine if any violations of The Student Code of Conduct occurred.

2.     If a respondent, complainant, and/or a witness, after receiving notification, does not appear for an Administrative Conference or any other meetings scheduled by the Case Resolution Coordinator, the Investigation and/or Administrative Review will proceed without the student(s).

3.     During an Investigation/Administrative Review process, the respondent and the complainant(s) shall each have the right to:

a.      Be notified of all alleged violations. This will typically be done through the University e-mail system. Notifications of student organization respondents will be done through the University e-mail system to the president of the student organization (for notice of allegations) and the student organization representative thereafter. Students and student organization leaders and representatives are responsible for checking their University e-mail and following the instructions contained within the e-mail.

 

b.     Review any written referral(s) submitted in support of the allegation(s) and/or violation(s).

 

c.      Present relevant information, including names of witnesses, questions for witnesses (including the individual reporting the misconduct) and other documentation, regarding the incident during the investigation period.

d.     Submit a written account or present a personal statement regarding the incident during the investigation period. The decision to not present information is not an admission of responsibility and will not be considered as such.  A student organization representative may submit one statement regarding the incident investigation on behalf of the student organization.

 

e.      Be informed about the Administrative Review process.

f.      Review investigation reports, including all supporting documentation, and any written recommendations prior to the Administrative Review.

g.     A reasonable period of time to prepare for an Administrative Review.

h.     Request a delay of an Administrative Review due to extenuating circumstances. The decision to grant or deny any such request is within the discretion of the Director of Community Standards or designee.

i.      Be accompanied by an Advisor during the portions of the investigation or Administrative Review in which the student is participating. Individuals allegedly involved in the same incident may not serve as an Advisor. A student should select an Advisor whose schedule allows for attendance at the scheduled date and time of any meetings. Delays will not be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an Advisor.

j.      Present a community impact statement to the Administrative Review Committee in the event that the student is found “responsible” for one or more violations of The Student Code of Conduct.

k.     If, prior to the meeting of the Administrative Review Committee, the investigator, the respondent, and the student complainant (if any) agree to the recommended violations and sanctions, the case may be resolved prior to an Administrative Review. If not, the case will proceed to an Administrative Review.

B.   Administrative Reviews on Allegations/Violations

1.     Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will send the respondent a copy of the completed investigation report and will attempt to meet with the respondent to review the findings of the investigation. The report will outline the factual findings based on preponderance of evidence standard. If the investigation report includes a recommendation that a student be found “responsible,” for one or more allegations, the investigator will also review the recommended sanctions.

After the investigation report has been sent, the student will have five (5) business days to respond to the findings and recommended sanctions contained in the investigation report. The student will also be encouraged to submit a Community Impact Statement, which summarizes the student’s understanding of the incident and the impact that their behavior may have had on the community. A Student Organization Representative may submit one statement on behalf of the Student Organization.

The investigator will also send the completed investigation report to the Complainant(s), if any, and will attempt to meet with them to review findings of the investigation. Complainant(s) will have five (5) business days to respond, including submission of a Community Impact Statement, which summarizes the student’s understanding of the incident and the impact that the alleged behavior may have had on them or the community.

 

Upon the conclusion of five (5) business days, the investigator will submit to the Director of Community Standards or designee, a final draft of their investigation report as well as any responses from the respondent and/or complainant(s).

2.     Within ten (10) business days, an Administrative Review Committee, comprised of three Administrative Review Committee members will be assigned to review the report and the parties’ written responses to its findings, minus any recommendations regarding any disciplinary action.

3.     Administrative Reviews bring several people together to allow for the full consideration of any allegations that a student has violated The Student Code of Conduct. Participants may include the investigator(s), the respondent(s), complainant(s), witness(es), member(s) of the Administrative Review Committee, an Administrative Review Committee Advisor, and an Advisor for each respondent or complainant.

4.     All participants are expected to be respectful of each other’s purpose in the review process and are to conduct themselves accordingly at the direction of the Administrative Review Committee. The Director of Community Standards or designee may modify the procedures after taking into consideration the support and privacy needs of the parties and/or other potential meeting participants. This may include, but is not limited to, alteration of the meeting room setup, use of multiple rooms, video-conferencing equipment, or other electronic means.

5.     Administrative reviews shall be generally limited to a review of the final investigation report, responses to the investigation report submitted by the respondent and the complainant(s), and statements and evidence collected during the investigation period.

Members of the Administrative Review Committee may opt to ask questions of the investigator, the respondent(s), complainant(s), and any witnesses. Questions may be presented to the Administrative Review Committee by the complainant and respondent for the Administrative Review Committee members to pose to any witnesses, the complainant, or the respondent. Whether or not the questions presented by the complainant or respondent will be asked by the
Administrative Review Committee shall be at the discretion of the Administrative Review Committee.

The Administrative Review Committee may adopt the investigator’s report in full or in part, may consult with the investigator, request that further investigation be done by the same or another investigator (including questioning of the parties), or request that the investigation be conducted again by another investigator. The Administrative Review Committee may not, however, conduct its own investigation.

If there is a finding that the respondent is “responsible” for violating any provision of The Student Code of Conduct, or the purpose of the review is limited to reviewing proposed sanctions, the Administrative Review Committee will then review the respondent’s academic transcript and conduct history, if one exists, the recommended sanctions, and any community impact statements. Character references and/or letters of support will not be accepted.

6.     Once the Administrative Review Committee has completed its review on findings and sanctions, the respondent and the complainant(s), if present, will be verbally notified of the findings and sanctions. The respondent will receive written notification of the Committee’s decision within three (3) business days. The respondent and the complainant(s) will be simultaneously notified of the factual finding(s) in writing if permitted or required by law. Upon written request, a copy of the final investigation report shall be made available to the respondent and the complainant(s) if permitted or required by law.

Administrative Review Committee meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures listed below.

a.      Formal rules of process, procedure, and/or technical rules of evidence, such as are applied in criminal or civil court, are not used in these proceedings.

b.     Administrative Reviews shall be conducted in private. In accordance with Massachusetts state law, Administrative Review Committee proceedings may not be recorded.

c.      Admission of any person into the meeting room shall be at the discretion of the Administrative Review Committee. The Administrative Review Committee shall have the authority to discharge or to remove any person whose presence is deemed unnecessary or obstructive to the proceedings.

d.     When an Administrative Review involves more than one respondent, the Director of Community Standards may, at their discretion, permit Administrative Reviews concerning each student to be conducted either separately or jointly.

e.      When a student respondent has been found “Responsible” for violating any provision of The Student Code of Conduct, or the purpose of the review is limited to reviewing proposed sanctions, the Administrative Review Committee shall consider the student’s academic transcript, student conduct history, impact statements from the respondent and complainant, and the investigator’s written recommendations before imposing sanction(s). Character references and/or letters of support will not be accepted.

f.      Following the meeting, the Administrative Review Committee shall advise the respondent and the complainant, if any, in writing of its determination and of any imposed sanction(s).

g.     All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Administrative Review Committee.

C.  Administrative Reviews on Sanctions

1.     If the Case Resolution Coordinator and respondent are able to resolve the incident regarding the allegation(s) and/or violation(s) but not the sanctions, an Investigation /Administrative Review shall focus solely on the proposed sanction(s).

2.     Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will submit to the Director of Community Standards, or designee, a report containing factual findings based on a preponderance of evidence standard, a determination regarding the alleged violation(s) (typically, a signed agreement where the respondent has taken responsibility for the alleged violation(s)), and a recommendation regarding any sanction(s) that may be appropriate.

3.     An Administrative Review Committee will be assigned to review the report, all evidence, and issue a formal decision regarding sanctioning. The Administrative Review Committee will review the respondent’s complete educational record, including but not limited to a review of the respondent’s academic transcript and Community Standards history, if one exists, and any submitted community impact statements. Character references and/or letters of support will not be accepted.

4.     Administrative Reviews on Sanctions bring several people together to allow for the consideration of any proposed sanctions. Participants may include the investigator(s), the respondent(s), complainant(s), member(s) of the Administrative Review Committee, an Administrative Review Committee Advisor, and an Advisor for each respondent or complainant.

5.     All participants are expected to be respectful of each other’s purpose in the review process and are to conduct themselves accordingly at the direction of the Administrative Review Committee. The Director of Community Standards or designee may modify the procedures after taking into consideration the support and privacy needs of the parties and/or other potential meeting participants. This may include, but is not limited to, alteration of the meeting room setup, use of multiple rooms, video-conferencing equipment, or other electronic means.

6.     Once the Administrative Review Committee has completed its review on sanctions, the respondent and the complainant(s), if present, will be verbally notified of the assigned sanctions. The respondent will receive written notification of the Committee’s decision within three (3) business days. The respondent and the complainant(s) will be simultaneously notified of the factual finding(s) in writing if permitted or required by law. Upon written request, a copy of the final investigation report shall be made available to the respondent and the complainant(s) if permitted or required by law.

      D. Sanctions

1.     Findings of “not responsible” result in the matter being closed. Students will receive this disposition in writing.

 

2.     If the respondent is determined to be responsible for violating The Student Code of Conduct, appropriate sanctions will be imposed.  Sanctions are determined by considering the nature of the misconduct, precedent regarding such misconduct, the respondent’s complete educational record, including but not limited to the student’s academic transcript, Community Standards history, the community impact statements and/or mitigating or aggravating factors. With respect to respondents that are student organizations, the Case Resolution Coordinator will obtain recommendations from other applicable university departments and offices. In cases alleging student organization misconduct, the Case Resolution Coordinator may also review the Community Standards history of individual members of the student organization.

 

3.     The University has a special concern for incidents in which persons are mistreated because of race, gender, disability, age, marital status, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, genetic information, or other personal characteristic. Such incidents damage not only individuals, but also the free and open academic environment of the University. More severe sanctions are appropriate for such misconduct.

4.     Some University policies specify sanctions for violations. See individual policies for sanctions required, if any.

 

5.     A campus department, separate from the Office of Community Standards, may place a restriction on a student or student organization found responsible for violating The Student Code of Conduct.  Examples include, but are not limited to: Athletics, the Center for Student Engagement, Residence Life and Housing, and the Office of Study Abroad.

 

6.     Sanctions such as University Expulsion, University Suspension, Permanent Residence Hall Suspension or Temporary Residence Hall Suspension may result in the forfeiture of certain monies.  Please refer to the Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog and/or the Residence Hall Policies and Procedures for additional information.

 

  1. In addition to other mitigating and aggravating factors considered in connection with imposing sanctions, additional factors may be considered with respect to student organizations including, but not limited to:

 

    1. The role of leaders and the seniority of the members of the student organization involved in the behavior supporting the violation;
    2. Whether leaders had knowledge of the misconduct before or while it occurred and failed to take corrective action;
    3. The number of members of the student organization involved in the behavior supporting the violation and the extent to which members acted in concert in connection with such behavior;
    4. Whether the leaders of the student organization self-reported the behavior underlying the violation;
    5. The extent to which the student organization leaders and members cooperated, responded honestly to questions, and accepted responsibility for the behavior underlying the violation;
    6. The misconduct involves a violation of the University’s Hazing Policy, Alcohol Policy, Drug Free Policy, or the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan, or violation of law.
    7. The following sanctions may be imposed, individually or in various combinations, on any student found to have violated The Student Code of Conduct.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of sanctions.

Major Sanctions

1.     University Warning: A written notice that the respondent has violated The Student Code of Conduct and a warning that another violation will likely result in more severe sanctions which could include University Probation, Temporary or Permanent Residence Hall Suspension, University Suspension, or University Expulsion or Loss of Recognition with respect to a student organization.

2.     University Probation: University Probation is a set period of time during which the student or student organization is given the opportunity to modify behavior, to complete specific assignments, and demonstrate a positive contribution to the University community in an effort to regain privileges within the University community.  Please be aware that a responsible finding for any violation(s) of any University policy during the probationary period will be viewed as a violation of probation, and will result in further action being imposed, including, but not limited to, University Suspension or University Expulsion.  Additionally, as students and organizations which are on University Probation are not considered to be in good standing with the University, this may impact their ability to participate in intercollegiate athletics, represent the University, or participate in student leadership positions, study abroad opportunities, or extracurricular activities or student employment. 
 

3.     University Suspension: University Suspension is a separation from the University for a designated period of time. Students who are suspended from the University are restricted from all University premises and activities, including but not limited to, course registration, class attendance, participation in co-curricular activities and University housing.  Students found in violation of this restriction, including attempts to enter the lands or buildings of the University will be subject to immediate arrest for trespassing as well as further sanctions from the University. Please be aware that the student’s academic record will be updated to reflect a suspension, including any grade change which may be assigned. 


4.     University Expulsion: Permanent separation of the student from the University.  A student who has been expelled is prohibited from participating in any University activity or program.  The individual may also not be in or on any University premises. Students found in violation of this restriction, including attempts to enter the lands or buildings of the University will be subject to immediate arrest for trespassing.  Additionally, a student’s academic record will be updated to reflect an expulsion, including any grade change which might be assigned.

5.     Revocation of Admission or Degree: Admission to the University or revocation of a degree awarded from the University may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or another violation of The Student Code of Conduct committed during the course of obtaining the degree or for other serious violations committed by a student after admission or prior to graduation.


Sanctions Impacting Residence Hall Status:
 

1.     Housing Probation: A designated period of time during which the student or student organization is given the opportunity to modify their behavior, to complete specific assignments, and demonstrate a positive contribution to the residential community. Additional violations of The Student Code of Conduct may lead to temporary or permanent removal from the residence halls.
 

2.     Relocation of Residence: Required reassignment to another campus residence location.

3.     Temporary Residence Hall Suspension: Temporary separation of the student from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing. Reapplication for housing does not guarantee immediate placement. Conditions for returning to the residence halls may be specified.

4.     Permanent Residence Hall Suspension: Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.


                  Additional Sanctions: The following may be assigned in conjunction with any status sanction(s).

1.     Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.

2.     Restriction: Denial of access to any campus facility, activity, class or program.

3.     No Contact Order: University issued directive ordering no contact and/or communication between one or more parties. This includes but is not limited to letters, emails, text messages, social media, or messages delivered through a third party.

4.     Fines: Costs assigned in conjunction with participation in educational programs or assignments.

5.     Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service or monetary or material replacement.

6.     Community Restitution Project: Assignment of an appropriate service project that will benefit the University community, responsible student or others.

7.     Assessment: A student may be referred to an appropriate office or local agency for consultation or assessment.  These may include Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Assessments and Anger Assessments.

8.     Educational Program/Project: Participation in a health or safety program (the student may be required to pay an enrollment cost); seminar; and other assignments as warranted.  Examples include, but are not limited to: BASICS, Marijuana 101, Nicotine 101, written research projects, or reflective essays.

 

In addition to the above listed sanctions, the following sanctions may be imposed upon any student organizations found to have violated The Student Code of Conduct.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

Loss of Recognition: Loss of all University privileges for a designated period of time.  Loss of recognition for more than two consecutive semesters requires a student organization to reapply for University recognition.  Conditions for future recognition may be specified.  Students may not continue to participate or associate in a student organization or accept further members during any Loss of Recognition.

      E. Appeals

1.     A decision reached through an Administrative Conference, where the student accepts responsibility and agrees to sanctions, cannot be appealed. Additionally, cases resolved through the Response by Letter process will not be subject to appeal or additional review following the three (3) business day response period.

 

2.     A decision reached through the Administrative Review Committee may be appealed by the respondent(s) or complainant(s) to an appellate body within five (5) business days of the decision.  Only the student organization representative may submit an appeal on behalf of a student organization respondent.

 

3.     All appeals shall be submitted through the designated online form. In order to be considered, appeals must state the grounds for the appeal and provide a rationale supporting those grounds.

 

4.     Appeals shall be limited to a review of the investigation report and the subsequent findings. The review shall be limited to the following reasons:

a.      To determine whether the administrative review was conducted in conformity with prescribed procedures. Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice resulted.

 

b.     To consider new information and/or facts, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person making the appeal at the time of the investigation. New information and/or facts must be considered sufficient to alter a decision.

 

5.     Sanctions are normally placed on hold pending the decision of the appellate body.  However, the University reserves the right to maintain the status of any/all sanctions it deems appropriate. 

 

6.     If the original decision reached by the Administrative Review Committee is not upheld by the appellate body, the matter may be referred back to the Administrative Review Committee to allow further reconsideration of the decision. Alternately, the appellate body may determine any appropriate changes to the findings or imposed sanctions. If the original decision reached by the Administrative Review Committee is upheld, the matter shall be considered final and binding.

 

7.     All parties to an appeal will promptly receive simultaneous written notice of the outcome of the appeal.

 

      F. Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

 

1.     A student with a disability who desires an accommodation in regard to an Administrative Conference, Administrative Review or appeal must request an accommodation by following the procedure for requesting an accommodation through Student Accessibility Services.  It is the student’s responsibility, and not that of a University official, to request an accommodation.  Student Accessibility Services will make a determination regarding the request and notify the appropriate parties. A student will not be considered to have a disability unless and until the student registers with Student Accessibility Services.  Please contact Student Accessibility Services at 508.531.1214 or by email at Disability_Resources@bridgew.edu for additional information.

Updated 9/2020 by Peter Wiernicki, Office of Community Standards